Wanted: Great books for teens and kids

Colt and Jessie reading in the closet.

I’m looking for three books to feature this fall in the Simply Faithful book club: a picture book, chapter book and teen book. All of them need to have some sort of spiritual theme and they need to be the kind of book that you make your friends read.

Typically we like to offer an online chat with the authors, so they need to be… ahem… living.

Give it some thought. Talk it over with other book lovers and let me know what you think by Sept. 10.

I’ll announce the books we’ve selected on Oct. 8.

Thanks in advance for all of your help!

Read about our past book club selections:



Benjamin, who memorizes the stories for now, reads to Colt.

Focus on freedom: Q&A with author James Rubart

Thank you to all who joined us for our Facebook chat with James Rubart, author of Rooms. I’ve captured (and slightly reorganized) that chat here to make it easier to follow. Enjoy the wisdom he offers…

Simply Faithful: Jim, I know you struggled to get your first book written. Have the others been easier for you?

Jim Rubart It took me six years to write ROOMS, two years to write BOOK OF DAYS, five months to write THE CHAIR, ten weeks to write SOUL’S GATE (comes out in early November) and I’m on pace to finish the novel I’m working on right now in six weeks, so it’s apparently getting easier although it’s tough writing 3,500 words per day! 🙂

Simply Faithful OH MY GOODNESS! That, my friend, is some fast writing!

Simply Faithful Do you think that it is because you are a better/faster writer now or because you tackled some of your fears?

Jim Rubart Certainly fear is a part of writing. (When are they going to figure out I can’t write!) But it’s like anything you do, you understand the process better each time you do it which speeds things up. Uh, and there’s always the factor of having a deadline you’re getting paid to meet. 🙂

Tanya Shaw Herrold Jim – Were you fearful that Rooms would be “rejected” because of the rooms and voices? It does not seem as “main stream” as most Christian Fiction.

Jim Rubart It was rejected, Tanya. By every major publisher, even B&H who eventually bought it. 🙂 But God had other plans.

Tanya Shaw Herrold Were you feeling discouraged or did you know God had plans?

Jim Rubart At that point I wasn’t discouraged because I had decided to believe I was a writer even if I never was published. So I just started working on BOOK OF DAYS. Then I met the editor at B&H who had rejected ROOMS and he said he’d read 200 manuscripts since he’d read mine and mine was the one he couldn’t get out of his head so he took another shot at getting the committee at B&H to buy it and obviously they did.

Tanya Shaw Herrold You believed you were a writer! WOW! That is a powerful statement. How did you arrive at the point where you could believe in yourself like that?

Jim Rubart: I’d just gotten a rejection from Thomas Nelson for ROOMS (who is now my publisher for Soul’s Gate) and my wife asked me when I was going to start believing I was who God said I was even if no one else every agreed. That was the moment. My wife has been amazing. Cliche to say, but I wouldn’t be typing these words to you right now if not for her.

Tanya Shaw Herrold She sounds like an amazing woman who loves the Lord and trusts Him. Those are powerful words to say to your husband. I love that you listened and believed her. That is a lesson we could all learn from!

Simply Faithful We were just talking at dinner how it’s hard to remember what God says about us when the world says something else. (Your wife is a wise woman!)

Lisa Riggi Hi Jim… if I have a story to tell and would like to put it in book form, where do I start?

Jim Rubart Hi Lisa, I would start by immersing yourself in the blog of a friend of mine. I think it’s the best writers blog on the Web and it will give you a college level education on the publishing industry (be sure to go back and read all the old posts). http://www.rachellegardner.com/

Rebekah Cummings Weissert ditto on that. Rachelle Gardner’s website is fantastic.

Rebekah Cummings Weissert And if I may add a piece of advice, Lisa, if you haven’t started writing…start! And if you don’t know where to start, remember, you don’t have to start at the beginning. Start with your favorite scene and go from there. You can always fill in the beginning later.

Simply Faithful And then, Lisa, we’ll host a chat for you, too! Anybody who goes through the work of writing a book deserves to be celebrated.

Jim Rubart Well said, Rebekah.

Rebekah Cummings Weissert I thought about writing a book for many many years. That one piece of advice (start at your favorite scene) unlocked something for me and I had the bulk of the novel done in 3 months. Amazing what can happen when we stop being fearful and start writing. Guess I should take my own advice and work on book two, huh? haha

Lucinda Mellinger Anderson: Your new book Soul’s Gate( got a preview copy) from International Christian Retailers Show, my husband and I prayed through that, reminded us alot of Peretti spiritual warfare books.

Jim Rubart Lucinda, Dekker and Peretti were huge influences on me, so I’ll take that as a big compliment!

Jim Rubart Yes, definitely a flavoring of F.P. in that one! Wasn’t planning on it turning out that way, but it did!

Simply Faithful Do you know how your books will turn out before you start?

Jim Rubart No. Well sometimes …. uh … not really. Most of the time I have a premise and then start writing. The story forms as I write. The one I’m working on now (SWITCH) doesn’t have a firm middle begining or end yet … and I’m 72k words into it. So I suppose the simple answer is no, I see the story like a movie in my head and I simply transcribe what I’m seeing.

Jim Rubart Lucinda, if you’ve read my other books, where does Soul’s Gate in your like scale?

Lucinda Mellinger Anderson Have yet to read Chairs or Book of Days but really really loved Soul’s Gate!! The Matrix is not my favorite movie, I think I like more reality in my book!!

Jim Rubart So glad you liked it, Lucinda! My son and his girlfriend say it’s their favorite out of the four so far … mine is still ROOMS, first novel and all that. 🙂

Lucinda Mellinger Anderson Is every little detail intentional like the size of the house in Rooms?

Jim Rubart Yes, originally the home was 12k square feet, but I thought that was too big.

Lucinda Mellinger Anderson That is what several people talked about in the discussion group, deliberate details that lead the readers on!

Tanya Shaw Herrold That is why I read the entire book in one day! I was drawn to how the story was going to end/begin

Jim Rubart Yeah, those sneaky authors!

Lucinda Mellinger Anderson I love the way fiction books can relay truths that linger with people longer and discussed more, like the point gets across to them with out the preaching style of other books, so Rooms has made some more aware of the “rooms”” we all need to deal with as Christians.

Rebekah Cummings Weissert I agree Lucinda! I love fiction for that reason. This book does stay with you and make you think! I did a radio interview recently and the host almost didn’t have me on because he said he only interviewed non-fiction authors. But I’m passionate about telling the truth through fiction and he admitted that he had neglected fiction as a viable tool to reach people.

Jim Rubart: A bit of Trivia: The home on the cover of the book is real. I took the photo myself and it’s in the spot where it’s described in the book.

Simply Faithful Do the people who live there know about the book? If so, what do they think?

Jim Rubart They don’t … but I when we went to Cannon Beach to film the scenes for the ROOMS Small Group Experience DVD and workbook, then we went into Morris’ Fireside restaurant and met the owner and he knew all about the book.

Simply Faithful That had to be such a great feeling. How is it to share something so personal — and all writing is personal — and have strangers comment on it?

Jim Rubart Wild. I was in Switzerland recently and went to a bookstore there and they looked up the German version of ROOMS. Very strange to think people half a world away are reading a novel of mine in a different language.

Linda Gordon We’ve talked a lot about fear, but what are some other chains that we put on ourselves or allow others to put on us?

Jim Rubart One of the biggest is living to please others. We wear the “clothes” our parents and teachers and coaches and friend put on us instead of living for the approval of One.

Rebekah Cummings Weissert: Jim, I’ve written and published my first novel…and people are constantly asking me when the next one is coming out. I tell them I’m working on it…and I do have ideas. But everyone has loved the first one so much, I know I’m scared that it was a fluke and what if the next one doesn’t measure up. Did you deal with that fear?

Jim Rubart Oh wow, YES! I did. The response to ROOMS was so strong I was definitely nervous when BOOK OF DAYS came out. That whole, “I only have one book in me” thing. But a lot of people liked BOOK OF DAYS better, and now when I ask people who have read all three of my novels which is their favorite, the vote is evenly split … so I’m maybe sorta kinda starting to believe I have more books in me.

Rebekah Cummings Weissert Really comforting to hear 🙂 I guess “trust with all your heart” means with all my heart and I need to just move forward. 🙂

Jim Rubart If you haven’t read ROOMS, stop reading now. J Just curious when people figured out Rick was more than he appeared to be.

Tanya Shaw Herrold I felt like there was a uniqueness about him but, I did NOT see the guardian angel thing coming. He was a powerful voice!

Simply Faithful I usually pick up on that kind of thing pretty quickly, and I’d guess I was about halfway through the book… I think when he was “away” from the shop.

Jim Rubart Rick is my favorite character in the book.

Simply Faithful See, I would have thought Micah was your favorite. Why Rick?

Rebekah Cummings Weissert Now I have to go read the book again! It’s been a year. I would have read it again if I’d known get to join in on this convo tonight. But I remember loving Rick. 🙂

Jim Rubart Rick is strong and kind and wise and powerful when he needs to be and has such love and passion for Micah. I love Micah too, but I can’t help thinking how cool it would be to have a Rick in my life.

Simply Faithful You do have a Rick, right? 🙂

Jim Rubart Yes, I do. Jesus.

Tanya Shaw Herrold Rooms affected me in such a positive way. It opened my eyes and helped me see things as they were. Is it intimidating, knowing you are touching people’s lives in such a personal way?

Jim Rubart Well, this is going to sound so spiritual 🙂 but it’s true. I’m just stepping into where I think Jesus is leading me and then it’s up to the Holy Spirit to do the heavy lifting. So it is me, but it isn’t me at the same time. I’m just so grateful to Jesus he’s allowed me to go on this wild ride.

Tanya Shaw Herrold I think it is a blessing to those of us who read your work. You are using your gift to give glory and honor to God by sharing the truth and opening eyes.

Linda Gordon: What are some steps we can take to stop living in fear and move into freedom?

Tanya Shaw Herrold Listen to Jim’s wife! Is she taking on Life Coaching?

Simply Faithful And how do we stay there? I give myself little pep talks and sometimes I’m fearful again before noon!

Jim Rubart She should! If perfect love (Jesus) casts out fear, then the simple (but often hard to practice) answer it to continually press in to Him.

Jim Rubart But there’s much more to it than that. We need healing from past wounds. We need to understand the depth of God’s love. We need to understand what our destiny is and trust that God will lead us into it. And we need to realize we are dead. I no longer live but Christ lives in me. We have to die to self, give up our lives. How can a dead man or woman fear? But again, easier said than done.

Tanya Shaw Herrold Wow. I think sometimes we don’t know what/who are past hurts. Well, maybe it is just me….. I enjoyed the imagery of only truly being able to live one life. Either with God or money. Did you experience the crumbling of a life when you were saved?

Tanya Shaw Herrold I struggle with fear and pep talks! I saw a quote about being fearful of being great. You made it sound easy to listen to your wife. Was it?

Jim Rubart Yes it was, Tanya. She has incredible wisdom, but if you mean was it easy to believe, no, it wasn’t. Sorry, in this life freedom is available, but we have an enemy not so keen on that happening. Just like an athlete has to train their body for competition, we have to train (renew our minds as it says in Romans) if we want to find victory.


Join our conversation with author James Rubart?

We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Wednesday with James Rubart, author of Rooms. Won’t you join us? I’m sure we’ll be talking about freedom, about breaking away from negative voices and about really living the life God has for you.

It’ll be worth your time. I promise!

You can find us at 7 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 25, on the Simply Faithful Facebook page. Just hit the refresh button often so you can see our latest questions and comments.

Hope to see you there…

His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me

It was sitting there on the grass beneath a tree, a likely victim of early morning winds. But it was still perfect. All the dried weeds woven tightly in a circle. A soft cushion in the middle for cradling eggs. A work of nature. A work of art.

I put the empty nest in my bag and gingerly carried it around all day so I could show it to my household of curious boys. I marveled at the expert weaving and at the care that went into preparing a welcoming home – a home strong enough to withstand a great fall.

A day later, winds blew at my house, too. Some of the hardest we’ve seen. Ours is a home built on love and trust, and also on post traumatic stress and attention deficit disorder. We have wonderful times, and we have times when dark memories threaten to temporarily eclipse the light of hope.

Those memories, those feelings of not being worthy, created a storm that day. It felt like our nest was loosening a little from the branch, like maybe our walls weren’t quite high enough or thick enough to keep the bumps and bruises of life at bay. We had little choice but to hold on and to trust the one whose eye is on the smallest of sparrows. The one who taught the birds of the air to gather and weave.

It’s hard when the nest is swaying to remember scriptures and hymns, to remember that the storm will end and its rain bring healing. I’m glad I carried the tiny nest home because it became a reminder, a symbol, to me in the days after.

I look at it and know that I need to keep weaving in threads of confidence and self-respect. I see I need to cushion my family with the kind of love that is steadfast and devoted. And I’m reminded that I need to hold tight and trust.

His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.

If you are reading Rooms with us, remember that Alpha & Omega Parable Christian stores in Penfield and Greece are hosting discussion groups at 7 p.m. July 10, 17, 24 and 31, and you can visit with the author, James Rubart, at 7 p.m. July 25 on the Simply Faithful Facebook page.

You’re invited to read with us

Scripture tells us that Job had a pretty charmed life. Seven sons. Three daughters. Thousands of sheep and camels. Hundreds of oxen, and a great reputation for serving God, which is apparently what made him a target for a spiritual tug-of-war.

As the story goes, Satan was trolling around looking for someone to deny God, so God suggested Job. He knew that Job’s faith was strong enough to handle anything thrown at him. Usually that’s where the Sunday School lessons focus, the perseverance and commitment angle.

But I’ve been thinking about how Job’s suffering was carefully mapped out. Even before the messenger had finished explaining how all of his camels were stolen, another messenger arrived to say that his children had died. Soon, Job was covered in painful boils from his feet to his head. No part of his life was left untouched.

So, why do I think I would be any different? Why should I think that evil won’t tug at my job, my family, my homesickness, my insecurities, the pieces of my heart that are broken? Do I even recognize evil?

“I’m convinced we live in chains – either of our own making or by the enemy,” said James Rubart, author of Rooms. “We each have a divine destiny, and the enemy is trying to keep that from happening.”

That idea of releasing the brakes we put on ourselves and throwing off the chains of those who keep us down – the idea of true freedom – is at the center of Rooms, the fiction book I’ve chosen for our second Simply Faithful book club.  In Rooms, software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a letter from a late uncle he barely knew telling him of a house he has built for him along the Oregon coast. The house, it turns out, is actually a physical manifestation of Micah’s soul, and there are rooms for places of his life where he needs forgiveness, healing and victory.

Alpha & Omega Parable Christian stores in Penfield and Greece, NY, will offer the book at a discounted rate of $9.97 and host discussion groups at 7 p.m. July 10, 17, 24 and 31. I’ll host a live chat with Rubart on the Simply Faithful page on Facebook at 7 p.m. July 25.

I hope you’ll join us. Maybe we’ll all find a little more freedom.

Theme of freedom finds its way into all James Rubart’s books

James Rubart knows success can feel empty. For years he ran a highly profitable marketing firm, all the while feeling there was more to his destiny – knowing that he needed to write more than TV ads.

He poured that experience into Micah Taylor, the main character in his first Christian novel, Rooms.

“I had the same choice Micah has to make in the book,” Rubart said. “I had the choice to jump off the cliff or stay safe.”

In Rooms, Micah is a software tycoon with almost more money than he knows what to do with. He has a great girlfriend, a penthouse in Seattle, a hurtful relationship with his father and a heart still aching from the loss of his mother.

A letter arrives from a late uncle he barely knew and tells him of a house the uncle has built for him along the Oregon coast. The house, it turns out, is actually a physical manifestation of Micah’s soul. And its rooms, which seem to appear and disappear on their own, offer the chance for healing, reconciliation and love.

Like its cover says, the story is a blend of The Screwtape Letters and The Shack, without as much controversial theology. Rubart uses Christian scripture sparingly and stays away from religious lingo, yet still manages to bring in topics like spiritual warfare.

Micah, and most people, get comfortable with the voices they hear – the thoughts that flash through their minds, Rubart said, and those thoughts, even if negative, seem to be true.

“I’d love for people to walk away and test the voices they hear every day,” he said. “Is that voice coming from me? From God?”

And is it a voice of forgiveness and freedom?

“For me, my theme is freedom,” said Rubart, who just finished his fourth novel, Soul’s Gate. It will be released in October and tell the story of people who are able to send their spirits into other people’s souls to help set them free.

Apparently the theme of freedom is resonating. Rubart receives letters and emails from people around the world telling him how Rooms has changed their lives. It has certainly changed his.

He once believed that he would never be good enough to write novels. Now, he has published three, finished a fourth and has a contract for four more. Rooms has sold tens of thousands of copies and even has a DVD study guide where Rubart visits the house in Oregon that is the setting of the book and actors bring key scenes to life.

Now, Rubart has stopped paying much attention to the voice that told him he couldn’t write. Instead he focuses on setting people free one character at a time.

About the book club

Joining the Simply Faithful book club is easy. Just pick up a copy of Rooms and participate in the community conversation. Talk with friends. Read it at church. Come to book discussions at Alpha & Omega Parable Christian Store.

Then, on Wednesday, July 25, log on to the Simply Faithful page on Facebook and meet the author, James L. Rubart. He’ll start answering questions at 7 p.m.

Also, send your comments to markettagregory@yahoo.com and read what others have to say about Rooms in the July 30 newspaper.

About the author

James L. Rubart lives in Washington with his wife, Darci, and two sons, Taylor and Micah. Besides writing novels, Rubart blogs at www.JamesLRubart.com and sometimes takes pictures – like the one that serves as the cover of Rooms. He can also be found on YouTube and Facebook, and he uses the Twitter handle @jimrubart.

Next up in the Simply Faithful book club: Rooms

For weeks I read books that readers suggested. I visited book stores and asked for recommendations. I bugged my husband and friends for their opinions on plots.

And finally, I found it. The next book for our book club: Rooms by James Rubart.

It’s not my typical genre — and I’d never read Rubart before. Still, the book tugged at me. It made me think of how I’m limiting myself, of how I allow the negative voices too much play time in my mind, of how God brings healing to broken hearts.

Give it a try and let’s discuss it.

Read my column and my profile of the author in today’s Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle:

It’s time to choose our summer book

Will you help choose the next book for the Simply Faithful book club?

Here are four that have been recommended. Have you read any of them?

  • Swipe by Evan Angler: The first in a series about Logan Langly, who is about to turn 13 and receive the government’s mark. The mark allows him to get a job, use public transportation and experience freedom.
  • Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke: Annie Allen loses her brother on the Titanic and her life is forever linked to the man her brother sacrificed himself to save.
  • Rooms by James L. Rubart: Micah Taylor investigates a house built for him by a great uncle he never knew, and he discovers it’s a physical manifestation of his own soul.
  • Need You Now by Beth Wiseman: Brad and Darlene Henderson move away from the big city to what they think will be a simpler life in the country, but one of their three teenagers begins to struggle and so does their marriage.

I want to find the book that everyone wants to read this summer — the book that is so good that you keep turning it over and over in your head. Is that book on this list?


Are there other novels that we need to consider? Let me know by May 15.